Friday, Jul 12th

District Announces New Mental Health Initiative

Slide9The Board of Education meeting on Monday March 25th, wasn’t just full of talk about the budget! In the business portion of the meeting that took place after long hours of thoughtful budget discussion, administrators shared an intriguing Education Report in addition to a few other exciting announcements. The announcements included the appointments of two new principals, an upcoming PTA program, and a new partnership with the JED Foundation.

To start, Superintendent Dr. Drew Patrick and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Meghan Troy announced the appointments of two new principals in our district. First, the BOE welcomed and congratulated the current Interim Principal at Scarsdale Middle School Mr. Chris Coughlin on his appointment as the new principal at SMS. Mr. Coughlin took a moment to thank the BOE and to share that the hiring process allowed him to reflect on how amazing our students are, how world class our staff is, and how supportive our families are here in Scarsdale. He feels incredibly honored to be given the privilege of his new role at SMS.

Troy also announced that, coming to us from the Anne Hutchinson Elementary School in Eastchester, Annette Keane has been appointed as the new Edgewood Elementary School Principal. You can read more about both new principals here

Interactive Workshop on Civil Discourse

In updates from board members, Suzie Hahn invited parents to attend a program titled, “Appropriate Discomfort: How Scarsdale's Students Learn to Engage in Civil Discourse,: on April 4 at 7 pm in the ILab on the second floor of the high school.

She explained, “In Scarsdale, we prioritize cultivating intellectually rigorous learning environments in which students actively engage multiple perspectives and have access to divergent thinking and ideas. This can be, by design, uncomfortable, especially as arguments can disrupt strongly held beliefs.”

The interactive workshop will be lead by Meredith Dutra, Media Literacy Specialist, and Edgar McIntosh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum in which they'll demonstrate the strategies, methods, and tools that Scarsdale teachers use to have students civilly engage in complex, informed, and sometimes difficult conversations. They will discuss how these tools can be applied to classrooms, board rooms, and family discussions.

Mental Health Initiative

Before giving a Strategic Plan update, Dr. Patrick announced that along with 14 other schools nationwide, the Scarsdale School District was selected to participate in the JED Foundation’s "District Comprehensive Approach" (DCA) pilot. This transformational program will guide districts in improving systems of support for pre-K-12 students’ emotional well-being, provide powerful professional learning experiences, and develop a strategic plan for building comprehensive student mental health and suicide prevention programming. Inaugural district cohort members will be at the forefront of learning and leading powerful mental health and suicide prevention practices that will benefit both staff and students.”

Patrick explained that he is excited to partner with the JED Foundation, a non-profit organization, and to have their help in identifying emerging current mental health priorities and the best action steps to take with what we learned from our District’s recent “Belonging Survey”.

Patrick is also quoted saying, “Two of the most critical prerequisites for each student’s complete development and contribution to the community, society, and world are developing a sense of belonging and experiencing well-being. Unfortunately, the trend among youth suggests these attributes are harder to develop and maintain in today’s world, and one of the indicators of this is the increased demand for mental health care resources. We believe that the District Comprehensive Approach is a valuable tool that we can use within our community to help address these trends. Through the implementation of this approach across our schools, we can help students and their caregivers know how to access the support they need to be successful and achieve the sense of belonging and well-being they need to thrive.”

In his update about the District’s Strategic Plan, Dr. Patrick began with a reminder that part of developing a community-owned strategic plan that supports our District’s vision and mission, is gathering feedback from community stakeholders. The District started to gather feedback in November of 2023 when it hosted its first World Café with the faculty and collected thousands of comments. Then in Nov./Dec. 2023, the District held more World Cafés (2 in person, 1 on zoom) with community members and gathered hundreds of more comments. In January, 2024, they administered a Community Survey which garnered 130 respondents and over 1,000 comments.

The following slide shows the themes that emerged from the gathered feedback:

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Patrick noted that the District’s partnership with the JED Foundation will help to facilitate the growth of many of the skills that were identified as emerging priorities such as Life skills, Social Skills, Social-emotional Learning, Growth Mindset, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication, and Collaboration Skills.

Also during the Education Report, Superintendent of Curriculum, Dr. Edgar McIntosh gave an inspiring presentation about Project Based Assessments. We will provide an in-depth look at this presentation in an article next week.